So you’ve decided you want to buy a collectable or classic car and you want to check it out yourself. Number one, I would recommend against that. I’d recommend you have a professional do it, but if you insist here are some things you should look for. 

First you want to look at the general condition of the outside of the car and the interior, and that’s just self-explanatory. But you want to go under the hood of a car and the things you are looking is to see what’s original and what’s been replaced. You want to make sure you have as many original parts as possible. And you want to make sure whenever possible that it has the original engine because that will have the biggest impact on the value of the vehicle. You want to make sure the transmission is appropriate for the vehicle and so on. All of these things have a big effect on the value of the car. 

But here is the thing a lot of you miss, and that is you don’t put the car up in the air. Now you’re certainly going to look for things like we have here. We have a giant puddle of transmission fluid. Well you need to look at that to see if it’s something major. Well in this case, it happens to be a bad transmission fluid pan gasket. So it’s about an hour’s repair, not a big deal. You want to look at the frame and all of the components like that to see if there’s any structural rust. Surface rust is not a problem, but structural rust, that can cost a fortune to fix.

The other thing you’re going to do when you have the car up in the air. You’re going to take some kind of a light and you’re going to illuminate the side of the vehicle. We’re going to go along like this. And what you’re doing is you’re going to sight the side of the car you’re going to look down it as you bring the light towards you and you’re looking for signs of body work. And the other reasons you want the car up in the air is that body work and painting is done on the ground with the perspective is looking down at it. Now you change the perspective and you look up at it and you can see most of the mistakes. You want to look at the rocker panels. You can also usually tell down here if there’s been body work because the finish down here is not as good. Look at the bottoms of doors that will tell you about body work on the doors, and always look for rust in all of these areas. Do it right spend some time doing it and maybe you’ll wind up with a great car. And if you have a question, or a comment, drop me a line. Right here, at MotorWeek.